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Why It’s Impossible Not to Fall in Love with Antigua, Guatemala

Discover the magic of a captivating Spanish colonial city living in the shadow of volcanoes

By Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl TravelPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
A typical street view in Antigua, Guatemala (Photo credit to the author)

I just love that simple magical feeling of arriving somewhere new.

Feeling the cobblestone street massage the soles of my feet as I stepped off the bus. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes to the sudden illumination from the colour-drenched colonial one-story buildings. Turning my head to gasp at Volcán de Fuego rising above the city, overlooking its domain below. It was exhaling ominous plumes of cloud-like smoke like a beautiful but dangerous mythical creature, warning you that, yes, I am still active. This incredible volcano was not the only one, several of these fire-breathing dragons swept the outskirts of the city.

This was the moment I fell in love with Antigua. Love at first sight.

Joe and I, feeling happy wandering the streets of Antigua, Guatemala — (Photo credit to the author)

The city is a joy to walk around and that was one of the very first things we did. The free walking tour was simply lovely, learning all about the triumphs and tragedies of this city, looking at pastel yellow churches, marvelling at Mayan jade artifacts and death masks, glorious arches, and columns, a bustling main square complete with ice cream sellers, market stalls, and marimba players.

I had the best hot chocolate of the whole trip at a café in that very square and that’s saying something after Mexico.

Iglesia de la Merced, Antigua, Guatemala — (Photo credit to the author)

Beautiful ruins of Antigua, Guatemala — (Photo credit to the author)

We also got to try out some great restaurants and local dishes. We even did a cooking class on how to make Guatemala’s most popular stew, Pepian, with a side of rice and mint radishes complete with a chocolate-filled Guatemalan-style doughnut and all the wine you could ask for.

Guatemalan cooking course (Photo credit to the author)

Another fun class was salsa dancing! I got a little dizzy from all the spinning but I felt like we learned some new moves. It made a big difference having a teacher one-on-one rather than going to a group class.

We even got to be somewhere with a bit of nightlife, to go out for a few drinks, and see some live music, which made a welcome change from some of the quieter spots we’d been to along the way. We even got to try and show off some of those salsa moves.

One wonderful thing about Antigua is all its viewpoints. There’s a famous one where we walked up to watch the sunset, but the most incredible views came from a place we stayed called the Earth Lodge. You could see Fuego so clearly up there in the clouds! I had to pinch myself when I went to a yoga class with floor-to-ceiling windows, through which you could watch that volcano view. We went into a traditional sauna, where we had to burn the wood at the back of the sauna, pour water on the stove itself, and light candles. Sadly, the advertised “nature trails” lasted for all of 10 minutes, and we quickly ran out of things to do, an overnight was maybe not necessary but it was a lovely place all the same.

The stunning view of Volcán de Fuego from the Earth Lodge— (Photo credit to the author)

Our first (of many) experiences with volcanoes in Central America was Volcan de Pacaya in Antigua. It’s a surprisingly easy hike with beautiful views over coal-black, sweeping lava fields. It’s the perfect starter volcano!

The black lava fields of Volcan de Pacaya in Antigua, Guatemala (photo credit to the author)

Joe standing on the red rocks of Volcan de Pacaya in Antigua, Guatemala (photo credit to the author)

We even got the chance to roast marshmallows by hovering them over the steaming piping red hot rocks. Even more surprising was seeing someone cooking pizza on the volcano! A natural pizza oven in the rock with a metal tray pressed against it was a door. It made me smile.

Using a volcano as a pizza oven, why not?! Volcan de Pacaya in Antigua, Guatemala (photo credit to the author)

Another thing I didn’t expect to see at the top of a volcano was a jewellery shop. A little corrugated iron shop with jewellery made by local artists from volcanic rock from this very volcano. They were pretty cute pieces and we couldn’t resist. I cherish my volcano rock necklace.

The Lava Store — Volcan de Pacaya in Antigua, Guatemala (photo credit to the author)

Our second volcano experience certainly wasn’t so easy!

An experience we were both eager for and dreading in equal measure, a steep 8-hour hike up Volcan de Acatenango and then more hiking on top of this to get to the top of Volcan de Fuego to watch it erupt. We hoped that the unique experience of seeing lava bubble up from the mouth of an active volcano would be more than worth the effort.

I’m going to write about this full epic experience in a separate story, as it deserves its own story to stand fully in the spotlight, so watch this space!

Volcán de Fuego — (Photo credit to Joseph Mitchley)

Thank you for reading! Hearts and tips are always welcome and your support is very much appreciated.

This story was originally published on Medium

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About the Creator

Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl Travel

Hi! I’m Georgie and I share travel stories of when sh*t happens. I think that sometimes the worst things that happen to you traveling, are often the funniest

Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sh.t_happens_lost_girl_travel/

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (4)

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  • Chloe Gilholy2 months ago

    Looks like you had a wonderful time.

  • Daphsam2 months ago

    Wow, what an adventure you had!! Love the Lava Store!

  • Sounds amazing! Pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to make that 8 hour hike, though.

  • C. H. Richard2 months ago

    Love reading about your adventures! The volcanic jewelry shack is pretty cool. ❤️

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